Totem Forest Signature v. Joseph Audio Profile

I'm considering upgrading my medium size tower speakers.  I'm unable to audition due to location so I've been reading a lot about various brands and models that would seem to suit me.  Both the Totems and Joseph Audios are described as having very good quality components and workmanship; and as having a "holographic" sound. I think either one would work well in my space and with my amplification.  Any opinions, suggestions or comments about one over the other are. appreciated.

Yes both the Totem brand and the Joseph brand do "holographic" sound.
The difference I would say is that the JA speakers tend to be more accurate, closer to flat, and thus more "neutral" sounding.  The Totems tend to have the "Totem dip" in the upper mids, which gives some of that nice distant soundstaging.  But it also gives Totem that particular identifiable tonal balance, where it sort of thins out and sharpens up the high end.  I find the Totem sound to be superficially attractive, but just too obviously colored for my own long term satisfaction. 

I haven't heard the Joseph Profiles, but have plenty of experience listening to the JA Pulsar and especially the Perspectives, and those speakers are trully special in terms of a grain-free, timbral beauty.  As I understand it from other listener reports and reviews, the lower priced "profile" models tend to preserve this aspect of the JA sound.

Agree that these speakers share many of the same strengths, and, frankly, I think you'll be thrilled with either.  But, if I had to make a choice, especially if I couldn't demo either before buying, I'd go with the Profiles.  Despite having similar specs, I suspect the Forests are a more demanding load on an amplifier.  Also, the Totems have an aluminum/titanium tweeter that may be fantastic, but I tend to prefer silk dome tweets that may be a little less risky sonically since you can't demo beforehand.  Lastly, JA uses that infinite slope crossover that, in every JA speaker I've heard, just has this natural coherence about it that seduces me into the music more than almost any other speaker I've heard. 

Obviously these are are my preferences that may have nothing to do with yours, but just thought I'd share what my thought process would be in case any of it helps you make your own decision.  Best of luck in whatever you choose. 

We are clearly both fans of the JA audio sound.  And yet I don't own them (yet).  I forget:  Do you own JA speakers?
Thank you. I appreciate your responses.  I've read that the Totem can be placed as close as 1 foot to the rear wall (I don't have much more than that space available).  Any idea about placement for the JA?
The Prisms are very good. I have not heard the Totems. 
I’ve read that the Totem can be placed as close as 1 foot to the rear wall (I don’t have much more than that space available). Any idea about placement for the JA?
Sure you "can" place either of these speakers one foot from the wall, but you’ll squash a lot of the holographic magic they’re capable of. If that’s your situation, you might want to look for a speaker designed to be close to the rear wall -- IMHO.  When I had a similar situation, I pulled the speakers out into the room for critical listening and pushed them back afterwards.  Kind of a PITA, but well worth the effort. 

@prof - unfortunately I do not own JA speakers either. I demoed a pair of RM25s at home a while back and have been smitten with the JA sound ever since. If my kids somehow get full college scholarships I’d have a pair of Pearls here before you could say "infinite slope."

Ha, same boat as me.  I don’t know if you followed my long thread demoing many speakers where I narrowed it down to the DeVore 0/93 or JA Perspectives.  I’d saved for over a year to buy speakers, had finally decided on the Perspectives, was just going to purchase them when one of life’s little financial surprises showed up and sucked away my saved up money. new speakers for me and back to the drawing board.   Still have the JAs in my sights for the future though!
If you go with 1 foot you'll squash a lot of life out of them.  If you can position properly, both are excellent choices.

For your guidance, I have the Totem Forest Signatures and love them. For more current insight please visit the link below. Kindest regards.


prof1, my Totem Signatures 1 's do none of the things you describe.

There are a hundred and one ways you  can make do what you say they do upstream .

Then you’ve received a golden sample where they deviated from their norm ;-)

I’ve heard many Totem speakers over the years (local dealer has sold the line as long as I can remember). And they all had that same sonic signature. A perceptible dip and a spike in the upper mids/high frequencies.

You can see how they have that dip around 4K and get a bit "spiky" at around 1K in both the measurements from Stereophile and Soundstage:

I was able to listen to the Totem Signatures 1 ’s at my pal’s home and, yup, that’s how they sounded.
As I said, it is a sort of attractive sound. I’m just too conscious of the "Totem sound" to live with them for too long.
Anyone actually heard the JA Profile?
Post removed 
Yes.  I heard them a few years ago at a show. Surprisingly good. 
Why surprisingly good? Joseph Audio is a well respected brand. They don't show up used very often because owners tend to keep the speakers. That says a lot about the brand.
The same can be said about the Totem Forest Signatures. 

I actually own JA Pulsars and have heard the Profile as well.  Both have a similar house sound. Really, it's that infinite slope x-over that makes for the holographic imaging. I find, generally, that a 2 way speaker with a good subwoofer simply disappears while a 3 way often times displays directionality. That could be due to integration issues stemming from the x-over. I didn't find that to be the case with the Profiles; they sounded quite coherent from top to bottom. Can't speak about the Totems as I have not heard them. I love my Pulsars and continue to be impressed by them. I think you will enjoy the Profiles immensely ... the sound and build quality are first class all the way.
I own a pair of JA Profiles and love them. I also own a pair of JA RM-22XLs (currently for sale).Both are wonderful. The Profiles are a little more sure-footed in the bottom end. Plus the already wide soundstage of the 22's are expanded even more. Additionally, I'd say the mid-range of the Profiles are a little more detailed. Both are wonderfully musical. Both need a little breathing room from the walls and benefit from great cables (read Cardas, what Jeff Joseph always uses when showing them at various exhibitions). I would say that the 22s are a little prettier what with the Rosewood finish though the matte black finish of the Profiles are certainly pleasing. Hope this helps.
Well I finally pulled the trigger and acquired a pre-owned pair of JA Profiles. It was a hard choice but I was able to get a much better price than what was available for a similarly pre-owned pair of Totems.  As luck would have it, just before the speakers arrived, my integrated amp developed an issue that will require sending it off for service.  I will now bring out and hook up my old Luxman R115 receiver (not a bad piece of equipment) for temporary service. I hope to swap out the speakers this weekend and listen to the JA's for the first time. I will be using brand new Zu cables and they recommend at least 200 hours of "burn in" for best performance so, with the receiver and new cables, I might not get a true audition of what these speakers can do.
Both are great speakers!  Placement and cabling will determine a lot about how they perform.  My Forest Signature’s have an unbelievably deep bottom end that is quick and tight.  Midrange is exceptionally full and treble is smooth and extended as well without jumping out or over the sound stage.  The speakers will either sing or fall apart based on ancillary equipment.  Power is a must...200/ch @ 8ohms or 400/ch @ 4ohms !  Even one power cord change in my system can alter the results...that’s how revealing and sensitive the crossovers are.
Congrats on your acquisition! I do agree with Dave that cables and cords make a significant difference. I note that Jeff Joseph always employs Cardas when auditioning his speakers at shows. Let us know how it all works out.
Note that Jeff uses Cardas for the internal speaker wiring of all JA's. Hence, the reason he utilizes Cardas as external cabling at shows.
The Profiles are hooked up and running, albeit using my old Luxman R115 and new cables.  Even with this temporary system, I'm impressed with the clarity and accurate tone from the speakers.  I still need to mess around a bit with the position of the speakers for best imaging and soundstage; and I'm confident that the sound will only improve as the cables "burn in" and when I get them hooked up to my amp.  BTW, the 75W per channel of the Lux seem more than adequate to drive these speakers.
I do agree with Dave that cables and cords make a significant difference. 

I don't agree.

I auditioned the JA Perspectives numerous times at a high end store, with various different high end cabling (because I auditioned them several times, they put them in different set ups).

I also auditioned them at home with my "lowly" non-high end cabling and they sounded like they did in the store.

Don't expect cables to save or alter speakers.  And  larstusor "burning in" will happen in your mind as you adjust to the sound.   Which is ok ;-) 

Think speaker/listener positioning, room acoustics first.

Congrats!  The further you pull them away from the back wall the better the depth of stage and overall imaging will become. 
"burning in" will happen in your mind as you adjust to the sound.
Prof, I wonder about the need for cables to "burn in".  Zu, on their website, and written materials provided with the cables, suggest the necessity for 200 hours of burn in time. As to why, they refer to the "Answers" section of the website, but I could find no information on "burn in" in that section or elsewhere on the site.


There’s a reason why you pretty much never see measured documentation of wire "burn in" (or see it demonstrated as audible).

For one thing, it’s a rather convenient idea for sellers to promote "Don’t like what you hear? It’s not our gear, it’s a lack of ’burn in.’ Give it hundreds of hours !"

It gives you a chance to get used to the sound and voila...often enough it miraculously "improves," where what is most likely happening is you are just adjusting to the sound of new speakers. You may not adjust enough in the end and want to send them back, but this "foot in the door" technique is a time-honored one in sales: if you can get a product in to a customer’s home part of the battle is won, hence lots of ’try at home’ policies. And the longer you can put off a return, get the customer to keep the item in question, the more likely they won’t end up returning it.  Suggesting a customer live with the item for hundreds of hours instead of making a flash decision to send it back is a helpful sales strategy.

I’d just be very cautious about depending on audiophile lore to fix your problems.

I am not depending upon these wires to fix any problems.  I needed to replace my bi-wire cables which I will offer as part of a package when I sell my Mirage OMD-15 speakers which have bi-wire terminals.  I found the Zu Mission cables at an attractive price and they may or may not be better than plain ole bulk speaker wire or lamp cord, but I figured what the heck. I am not expecting any revelation in sound related solely to cables. At least they make a nice, clean connection and seem to be of decent quality for set of wires.
Zu Mission speaker cables are great value. Picked up a 10’ pair a couple of months ago and very happy with the build quality and the sonics.
Congratulations larstusor! On your purchase.

Thanks Nutty,  I know your a Totem fan and it was a tough choice between the two, but I am pleased with the JA'a and was able to get a much better deal than what was available for a pair of Forest Sigs.
Larstusor, I have older JA RM25’s as a second set of speakers and I have to change the speaker cables when I listen to them or the highs are to bright for me. Cables will make a difference if the JA's have kept the same sound signature.

Congratulations !
Hi Prof1 - I've read your posts with considerable attention and appreciation for your thoughtful and detailed observations. They have added to my awareness and deepened my experience of listening to the music I love. While I certainly agree with you about the major importance of speaker placement I ha e found that cables do make some measure of difference. Prior to purchasing some (alas) pricey cables I was employing a "one off" and much less expensive set in my system hoping to save a little cash. Unfortunately they added some sense of shrill (too strong a word, I don't have your gift for audio language) to my experience. That went away immediately with the purchase of the more costly brand named set. They did not need burn-in time to hear the difference. I do agree with you that the "200 hrs" recommendation is something of a self serving con by the manufacturers and sales people. Just wanted to add this comment to the discussion. I think I will get a friend to help me with a "blind" A-B test to check out my impression more thoroughly though. With great and continuing respect I will look forward to your future posts. Best wishes, Tom
Ok. As per my most recent post I just finished up a blind A-B test with the two sets of cables I own. I recruited a friend to switch them in and out while I was out of the room. He covered them with a light cloth and called me back in. We played some Keith Jarrett Trio lps and cds plus some wonderful Bobby Watson (jazz sax) discs, the latest (2018) version of The Beatles White Album, a terrific 200 gram lp of Muddy Waters "Folk Singer" and assorted other tracks. It was immediately apparent which speaker cable was which. The cables were the Cardas Clear Cygnus vs a one-off label that touted itself as a "silver reference." The treble was more edgy and the whole presentation was less focused with the one-off. With the Cardas the sound was more smooth/less fatiguing. Plus the music tended to emerge out a black background. Clearly there was a far greater sense of depth and sound stage with the Cardas. My friend tried to trick me multiple times by leaving the cables un-changed from one trial to the next as well as switching them up. The process did take a little time and cost me a six-pack of good micro-brew IPA but was worth it. We did adjust the speaker placement, too, to see what changes that wrought. Prof1 and countless others are right about the importance of room  placement. I note that the two times I've been to audio shows and saw how fussy Jeff Joseph was about placement has long caught my attention. Just thought I'd pass this along. I must add that I greatly value Prof1's detailed and thoughtful critiques as they have helped raise my consciousness about how music sounds through different transducers. It's just that to my ears thru my Joseph Profiles I could readily detect the difference between the two cables I own. 
If you can’t hear differences in cables then you might as well not bother with high end gear.  Consider yourself blessed and enjoy the angst free savings you will reap.  If you can hear the difference, Lord help you!